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Pectoriloquy |

An Unseen Smile FREE TO VIEW

Tom McFadden, BA
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Editor’s Note:“An Unseen Smile” was evoked by the death of Tom McFadden’s twin sister from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It recounts one of their singularly shared sites, floating on inner tubes in the Susquehanna River, Pennsylvania.

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians (http://www.chestpubs.org/site/misc/reprints.xhtml).


© 2010 American College of Chest Physicians


Chest. 2010;138(4):1019. doi:10.1378/chest.09-2166
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What will not conform to this stark dearth
are the impulses.
Everyone says that life goes on;
and, indeed, on it goes,
but…not the impulses.
They stay at their old spot on a now gone way
as strangers to the solitude,
and seem not to understand
that the sharing can no longer be–
that a small, happy thought
now has nowhere to go,
and must remain alone.
I feel vestiges of impulses past
when, through flow of time,
they junctured our biographies.
So, I form my smile unseen,
for…
once more we’re two on the inner tubes,
floating gently near the shore,
but I share cognizance that a boat’s sped by,
so the waves will reach us soon,
and toward the sky so high we’ll ride
while the river rocks.
But…
like waves that dissipate after rocking us high,
my sister is no longer there.
I, abruptly, am in an empty day;
and, onto still water, just one shadow falls.
Yet…the impulse of sharing will not end.
Have, now, I aged too far?
I wonder if I can locate our old inner tubes
and still wade into deeper and deeper water
to push hers and mine ahead of me
until just the right instant were availing
to jump onto one awkwardly?
Should some boat chance to pass, although far away,
through this empty day,
waves may splash toward us more and more
until an empty craft and an unseen smile
may just float together near the shore.


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